In addition to celebrating 70 years of serving producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association at its annual convention in September honored a group of people whose efforts have helped to make the produce industry stronger.
The association recognized two individuals for their outstanding contributions in understanding and managing pests and diseases in citrus and sugar cane. Michael Rogers, associate professor of entomology at the Citrus Research and Education Center, and Jim Shine, vice president of agriculture operations at the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, received the Researcher of the Year awards.
Making a difference
Although he’s conducted other research, Rogers’ main focus is on citrus greening. In her nomination, Jackie Burns, coordinator of citrus programs for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said, “I can honestly say that I have never seen an Extension specialist who has done a better job at conducting research and translating that research into solutions for the industry than Dr. Michael Rogers. In the nine years Dr. Rogers has been in Florida, he has made a huge and positive impact on the state’s citrus industry.”
Shine manages short- and long-term planning, budgeting, harvesting, transportation and equipment for the 47-member sugar cane cooperative. He also provides advice and technical expertise on variety selection and inputs to help growers improve yields and increase productivity.
Paul Orsenigo, president of Orsenigo Farms, said in his nomination, “He has been the glue that provides the cohesive partnership among the sugar companies in Florida with the University of Florida and USDA Agricultural Research Service at Canal Point. This tripartite effort has provided significant research dollars and resources to fund and implement high priority sugarcane related research projects.”
FFVA’s Legislator of the Year awards went to Florida Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres).
Simpson, the Senate Community Affairs Committee chairman, sponsored several bills that were important to agriculture during the 2013 legislative session, including the Greenbelt bill, the Everglades restoration bill and the Florida Fire Prevention Code bill.
“Sen. Simpson was successful in passing all three of these bills, and he worked long and hard for agriculture on other issues during the 2013 legislative session,” says Butch Calhoun, FFVA government relations director.
Caldwell is chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. “Rep. Caldwell worked hard to ensure that all of the bills that were important to agriculture moved quickly through the House of Representatives,” Calhoun says.
Ahold USA, a valued partner that has worked with producers to promote Florida products, received the Merchandiser of the Year award.
In nominating the company, Quentin Roe of William G. Roe & Sons, says, “Ahold USA’s Florida citrus sales have increased more than 20 percent for two consecutive years.
This is a shared success and a testament to the collaboration between the vendor partners in Florida and the team at Ahold USA.”
Roe attributes the success to Ahold USA’s relationship with its Florida supplier partners “from category planning to maintaining flexibility throughout the season to support promotional plans.”
Also at the FFVA convention, the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation announced its selection of two deserving young people as the 2013 recipients of the George F. Sorn Scholarship. They are Flor Rodriguez, a student at the University of South Florida, and Ashley Vernet, who attends the University of Florida.
Rodriguez, a member of the National Honor Society at Hardee Senior High School, is pursuing a nursing degree.
Among her extensive community service, she volunteered at nursing homes and used her skills in sign language to help the home’s hearing-impaired residents.
In her application, Vernet said her goal is “to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and earn a master’s degree.”
The Horatio Alger Association Scholar from Immokalee High School received many awards, including honors in athletics, citizenship, English and world languages.
Lisa Lochridge is the director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Maitland. She can be reached at 321-214-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.